A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend and complaining about all that I had to do – clean the house, take kids to practices, pay bills, make dinner, work on blogging and learn HTML (among other things). We shared our mutual woes over our overfilled lives and the breakneck pace in which we were living them. But then she stopped and asked me
“What would you do, if all you had left tomorrow, was what you were sincerely grateful for today?”
And I really had to think. Because, at that moment, I might not have been left with much. Sure, I love my family (in a slightly rabid way), and I appreciate not living on the street and I REALLY like to eat. But that’s not the same as Gratitude. According to Merriam-Webster, gratitude is quality or feeling of being thankful. Gratitude is a feeling of joy and appreciation. And a realization of just how lucky you are to have those things in your life.
My friend’s question drove home an important point for me. We’re usually pretty good and expressing our gratitude for the big things that happen in our lives. A promotion. A new baby. Recovery from an illness. But it’s more difficult to see the gift in the everyday
occurrences. Where is the gift in vacuuming dog hair from the floor? Where is the gift in going to work with that one annoying co-worker? Helping your reluctant child with homework? Paying bills? Debating with your partner about where to eat dinner?
Our struggle is to find the gift in the mundane moments. And to find the value of those moments independent of anything else. It requires us to really look at our lives, be fully present in the moment and honest with ourselves about what is truly happening. Helping my daughter with homework IS a gift. I’m home with her and can help her right after school. We have a good relationship and she feels comfortable coming to me for help (and, luckily, I remember enough about fractions that I don’t have to use google on most days).
And that feeling of gratitude, that realization that this moment is a gift, changes what could be construed as a minor annoyance into a celebration. Gratitude isn’t about feeling joy because you have it better than anyone else. It’s about being thankful because, for all of its ups and downs, life is fundamentally good. Each moment is an opportunity to experience gratitude.